Minister must make good on promises to SNAs
Labour Party Education spokesperson, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has called on the Minister for Education and Skills, to ensure he keeps his promise to special needs assistants when it comes to announcing allocations this month.
Senator Ó Ríordáin has also welcomed the establishment by Fórsa Trade Union of an institute of professional standards for SNAs.
Speaking ahead of the Fórsa Education Conference, Senator Ó Ríordáin said:
“Last December, following the passing of my Seanad motion, the Minister for Education, assured thousands of SNAs across the country that they would know their allocation for the next academic year by May.
“With this deadline fast approaching, the Minister needs to reduce some of the uncertainty faced by SNAs late into the summer every year, over whether they will have a job to return to in September.
“The support provided by the thousands of SNAs to some of the most vulnerable children in our classrooms is essential, and it is high time their contribution was reflected in their employment rights.
“A survey carried out by Fórsa Trade union of 2,700 SNAs, has showed that most SNAs do not have access to basic training or adequate professional development.
“The Department of Education and Skills provide continuous training to teachers at both primary and secondary level. It is quite telling that the Department do not provide the same level of training to our SNAs. This goes against recommendations made in the Oireachtas Education Committee report into the role of the SNA
“It has now gotten to the point where Fórsa Trade Union are taking it into their own hands to begin the professionalising the SNA sector, so that hard-working will have access to training.
“The Minister for Education has made much fanfare about wanting Ireland to be the best education system in Europe. For this to happen the Minister has to look beyond teachers and launching new subjects. The Department of Education needs to take the continued professional development of SNAs seriously.
“Special Needs Assistants are not just fillers in our school system- they play a fundamental and crucial role, and it is high time the Department of Education treated them accordingly.”